What is Primary Mental Health Care?
Primary mental health care is the first level of care received when an individual seeks support for their mental health concerns. Primary mental health care can be delivered by GP’s, but also by psychologists, mental health nurses, mental health social workers, mental health occupational therapists and Aboriginal mental health workers. This level of care may be provided in a general practice, private practice, community managed organisation or in a community setting.
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What is Mental Health?
Good mental health is as important as good physical health.
The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realises their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community’.
Mental health can be seen as a continuum, ranging from good mental health to poor mental health. An individual’s position on this continuum can vary at different times in their life.
Mental health is different from ‘mental illness’.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental illness is a diagnosable health problem that can affect how an individual thinks, feels, behaves and interacts with others. Mental illness may disrupt a person’s ability to work, learn or carry out everyday activities.
Examples of common mental illnesses include: Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders and eating disorders.
When treated appropriately, mental illness can be managed.
How to talk to your GP?
If you’ve noticed a change in the way you are thinking or feeling, and this concerns you, you should consider talking to your GP.
Before your appointment, it might help to make a list of symptoms and/or questions before visiting your GP. It can also help to take a friend or family member for support.
Tell your GP:
- How you feel and your concerns
- How what you feel has affected your day-to-day life
- Weather you have had any recent stressors e.g. Relationship breakdown or loss of employment
- The names of any medication you are taking (including vitamin supplements)
It is important to be open and honest so that your GP can decide on the most appropriate treatment or referral.
What is a Mental Health Treatment Plan?
Everyone’s treatment needs are different. Your GP will assess whether the preparation of a Mental Health Treatment Plan is appropriate for you.
When developing a Mental Health Treatment Plan your GP will first assess your presenting concerns, relevant history, assess risk and complete an assessment tool by asking a series of questions. They will then work with you to document your needs, goals, treatment, referrals and relapse prevention plan.
Your GP will ask for your consent and will write you a referral to an appropriate mental health professional.
Referral options include:
– Better Access (Medicare)
– SWSPHN Commissioned Mental Health Services
NOTE: A Mental Health Treatment Plan is a living document and can be updated at any time to include relevant information.
Accessing a mental health professional through Better Access (Medicare):
- If you have a mental health treatment plan, you are eligible for Medicare rebates for up to 10 individual and 10 group sessions with a mental health professional per calendar year under the Better Access Initiative – Fact Sheet For PatientsYou will need to find out from the mental health professional if they are registered to provide Better Access and if you are required to pay a gap fee.
- Your GP may refer you to a mental health professional they are aware of, or you can request a referral for one that you know of. The below directories might be able to help you to find a mental health professional with experience in your current situation:
Once you have identified an appropriate mental health professional, contact them directly for any questions about their practice, fees and appointments.
Accessing a mental health professional through SWSPHN commissioned mental health services:
South Western Sydney PHN commissions a range of FREE Mental Health Programs across the South Western Sydney region to assist in improving the mental health of people that would otherwise have little or no access to mental health services, such as Better Access (Medicare).
NOTE: South Western Sydney includes surrounding areas of – Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Macarthur, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee.